Sunday, April 11, 2010

Short Cuts 3

Parole Girl. 1933. Directed by Edward F. Cline.
Columbia Pictures.

Name a Mae Clarke film which includes a grapefruit scene where the grapefruit stays on the plate. Parole Girl.

The title pretty much sets the stage. A basically decent girl takes a bad turn under the influence of a ne'er do well. She gets involved in a few scams, is compromised, and sent to prison for a year. Those who caught her are unsympathetic to her pleas to overlook her transgressions. She dons prison garb mostly because of a stolid office type played by Ralph Bellamy to whom rules are rules. (He’ll be sorry.)

The prison scenes are nicely done and look like what I think a woman’s prison might look like. My wife said the prison matrons really look like prison matrons, which makes one wonder. Mae’s sidekick, played by Marie Prevost, is a bit lacking given all the sidekick talent around at that time.

Anyway, while in prison, Mae plots for her early release and subsequent revenge on poor Ralph. She starts a fire in a workshop, helps put it out, is injured in the process and, hence, is paroled early.

What better way to get even with Ralph? Marry him. Kind of. There follows this business of who married whom, and when. And were they really married, and who might be a bigamist -- but it all sorts out. (This is not Edmond Dantes stuff.)

I like Mae Clarke, whose appearance seems to change somewhat as the story progresses. (There are times she reminds me of Norma Shearer.) Anyway, and here’s a twist: the Ralph Bellamy character gets the woman -- they get married, and only once this time. Yet I can’t help wondering, after things settled down and a bit of time passed -- if, perhaps, they might have moved to Tulsa.

Pick of the litter: Mae Clarke, by default.

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